Danian Yang

3 ways medical device sketching helps the design process

Sketching plays an important role as a tool or skill in the industrial design process. It’s an essential way to visualize ideas and draft basic layouts of the design for each direction chosen. It’s also the quickest way to communicate with clients and engineers without requiring a prototype or 3D rendering. Medical device sketching can bring many details into discussion as well as convey innovation beyond the actual device.
In this blog I list several fundamental functions of sketching in the design process:

  1. Quick Concept Creating

Sketching is an excellent tool to explore concepts quickly. During brainstorming, sketching can help record or visualize your ideas simultaneously, without even using your computer. Moreover, medical device sketching can also record ideas that jump into your brain anytime.


Fig 1 & 2.  Sketches for medical cart design.

These sketches show how we used sketches to explore design options for the handheld controller of a medical device. We were trying to find a balance of part split and the best way to build up the function modules. Sketches can easily present many different potential design possibilities. Many color and texture details are explored during the sketching process.

  1. Communication and Approval

It’s essential to stay on the same page with a client (internal or external) during the new product development stage. Sketching is a very quick and efficient tool to present thumbnails or compositions to clients and get approval for direction without draining massive amounts of time. Medical device sketching can also build a bridge between design and engineering when we need to investigate a problem or explore potential solutions.


Fig 3, 4.  Sketches for equipment enclosure instructions

During the engineering process, designers use sketches to archive the geometric form of the design and to communicate ideas between designers and mechanical engineers. At StarFish, sketching also acts as an analysis tool that diagrams the basic component layout at the beginning of a project and simulates the design before CAD works.

  1. Human Factor Exploration

Sketching can help analysis and provide a clear and visualized route map for human factors and ergonomics research. When it comes to medical device design, sketching helps designers work closely with the users (including doctors, surgeons and technicians) to identify and solve potential problems by showing all of the key design features.


Fig 5, 6.  Sketches for Human Factor/ Usability research

By varying the fidelity of sketches, they can be an integral part of all stages of human factor research. These sketches were used to explore possible interactions between human and device. Their flexibility allows sketches to increase access and support the thinking process, while communicating ideas to other engineers.


By using sketching in the medical products design process you can save an enormous amount of time, especially as more digital sketching methods are implemented during the design process. At StarFish, medical device sketching is our most effective tool to help clients visualize how their ideas might look like as a fully realized product. Sketching also creates an effective communication channel among designers, clients, engineers and users to keep everyone on the same page.

Images: StarFish Medical

Danian Yang is StarFish Medical Industrial Designer with experience in product and manufacturing. Skilled in creating and directing corporate and new product designs, his sketches are valued by clients and development team members. This is his first StarFish blog.


Commercialization Consult

3 responses to “3 ways medical device sketching helps the design process”

  1. Excellent post Danian!
    We’ve collectively lost our way a bit in the rush to be “digital”; and as you’ve hinted, it’s easy to become trapped in a poor design path when too much face time has been invested in a single CAD concept and not enough in rapidly iterated exploratory work.
    Few participants in the design process are fluent sketchers these days…that’s a sad loss of a super useful design and communication tool and I applaud you for pointing out its value.
    Modeling with “Sticks and Plasticene” falls into the same category IMO, and we don’t do enough of that either.


  2. Kevin Perera says:

    This post was great. I especially liked the sketches you presented Danian. What kind of sketching software did you use to create these drawings? I would like to learn how to sketch the same way for my design ideas.

  3. Danian Yang says:

    I sketched the image on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. Software I was using called “procreate”.


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